What To Do About The Flu

fluYou wake up coughing, sneezing and congested and feel like you dont even have enough energy to get out of bed. You're sick!

What it is:

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms include:

  • Sudden onset of fever (usually high)
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Tiredness (can be extreme)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose 
  • Some people also have nausea and vomiting

What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

The flu and the common cold are both viral respiratory illnesses. Flu symptoms (fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough) are more intense. Cold symptoms are usually milder and more likely to include a runny or stuffy nose. 

Length of illness: 

Flu symptoms usually last 2-7 days.


Get vaccinated. The best prevention is to get the influenza vaccination as soon as it is available every fall. 

How to not spread the flu:

  • Don’t touch that! Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to keep germs out of your body. 
  • Keep it to yourself! Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your shoulder. Throw out the tissue. Don’t share drinks.
  • Wash your hands often! Use warm water and soap or use alcohol-based sanitizers!

What to do if you get the flu:

If you get sick with the flu, stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care. Most people with the flu have mile illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs.

Take care of yourself:

  • Drink liquids to replace fluids lost from fever, respiratory secretions, or vomiting.  Drink at least one glass of water, juice, soup, or tea each hour while awake.
  • Gargle with warm salt water.  Use approximately 1/4 tsp. salt in a glass of warm water. Lozenges and cough syrup can also calm your cough or soothe a sore throat.
  • Get enough rest so the body can devote as much energy as possible to healing. If you are ill, it is recommended to stay at home for at least 24 hours.
  • Good nutrition helps your body recover from infection. Nausea may temporarily limit food intake to clear liquids, such as clear soups, flat ginger ale, 7-up, Gatorade, Jell-O, or water.
  • Loosen secretions with saline nasal spray, take steamy showers or use a humidifier.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can provide symptom relief:

  • Pain reliever/fever reducer (acetaminophen, ibuprofen) taken every 6 hours can control your fever and make you more comfortable. Do not take aspirin. The use of aspirin in young people has been linked to Reye's Syndrome.
  • Cough medicines (Robitussin DM, Mucinex DM, Delsym) can diminish a cough.
  • Decongestants (Sudafed) relieve congestion without causing drowsiness.

Ask the pharmacist or a nurse to help you select the best medicine for your symptoms. 

Who should take antiviral drugs?

Most healthy people with flu do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs. It's very important that antiviral drugs can be used early to treat flu in people who are very sick with flu (i.e. people who are in the hospital) and people who have a greater chance of getting serious flu complications (i.e. people with asthma or diabetes)

Call Health Services for an appointment at 315-443-9005 if you have:

  • Symptoms that persist or worsen.
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Sudden dizziness or confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but return with fever and increased cough.

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